Asbestos exposure may seem like a relic of the past since the dangers of asbestos have been known for decades and asbestos is now tightly controlled and no longer used in new buildings or other common products. Unfortunately, mesothelioma lawyers in Boston know that people continue to be exposed to asbestos far too frequently. Not only that, but new cases of mesothelioma and asbestosis are diagnosed every day as people who were exposed decades ago finally become ill as a result of the damage the asbestos fibers have done to their bodies over decades.
As a new National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study reveals that Americans are still losing hundreds of thousands of years of productive life because of asbestos, it is more important than ever before for employers and employees to be aware that there are still significant risks that workers will be exposed to and injured by asbestos.
What You Need to Know About Asbestos Exposure
Safety.BLR reported on the NIOSH study, which revealed that life years lost as a result of mesothelioma and asbestosis did not change very much from 1999 to 2010. Asbestosis and mesothelioma are the two most common and most deadly diseases that result after someone is exposed to asbestos.
This news is disappointing, since asbestos is now subject to tight government guidelines for use and handling, and since there are now improvements in diagnostic tools and treatments for asbestosis and mesothelioma. Still, the news should not come as a big surprise since asbestos was so common and so widely used for so long and since there are still many people alive today who were exposed to asbestos.
When a person is exposed to asbestos and breathes in the silicate fibers, the fibers can become lodged in the lining of the lungs and in the lining of the abdomen. Scarring that results from these fibers can develop into asbestosis and mesothelioma. The individuals who breathed in the asbestos fibers decades ago still have this process going on inside of their bodies, and account for many of the new diagnoses that occur each year. Since mesothelioma has an average survival time of just nine to 12 months, these individuals also account for the deaths that NIOSH is concerned about.
Past cases from decades-old exposure aren’t the only concern though, as people are still exposed to asbestos when they work in old buildings or work in areas where asbestos products still remain. Construction workers and firefighters are just two of the groups who may encounter asbestos when doing their jobs and who may begin to experience damaging changes to their health as a result.
While the exposure in the past cannot be prevented or undone, steps can and should be taken to protect as many of today’s workers as possible. Safety BLR provides a summary of several key facts about workplace asbestos exposure, indicating that:
- There is no safe level of exposure to any asbestos fibers.
- Asbestos exposure that lasts just a few days has been linked to mesothelioma.
- Employers must institute engineering controls, control work practices and establish regulated areas when exposure occurs at work.
- Employers must provide personal protective equipment if a worker is likely to be exposed to asbestos.
- If an employee is exposed for longer than the law allows or is exposed to more than the legal limit of asbestos, medical monitoring is required.
Workers need to be aware of their rights and should seek assistance if an employer is not taking proper precautions.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
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Lawsuit Against Tobacco Companies Based on Asbestos Filters Result in Tobacco Companies Paying, Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog, November 4, 2013.